A lowly US county judge did more yesterday to protect kids than the most powerful prelate on the planet. Yesterday, Judge John Van de North forced the Catholic archbishop of St. Paul/Minneapolis to disclose the names, whereabouts, statues and work histories of about 30 credibly accused child molesting clerics.
Yesterday, as he’s done for eight months, Pope Francis refused to disclose a single predator's name. Nor, as best we can tell, did a single one of the planets 5,000 Catholic bishops disclose a single predator’s name.
The St. Paul/Minneapolis archdiocesan abuse and cover up crisis is getting worse…and weirder.
Let’s start with the “weirder” part. An admitted predator priest there “met with Fr. Kevin McDonough, the vicar general, to talk about two topics — his relationship with a serial killer and his sexual interest in a convicted child rapist.”
It’s not enough that Fr. Clarence Vavra molested kids. He also apparently was (or is) close to two men. One is a serial murderer and the other was imprisoned for raping his son.
Imagine this: A bank robber shoots and kills two people – first a custodian and a then a teller - as they run away seeking safety.
The criminal is held responsible for the custodian’s death but not for the teller’s death. Why?
Because when the bullet hit the custodian, he was on bank property but when the bullet hit the teller, she was actually standing on a public sidewalk.
Sometimes, I find hope in odd places, like the "international" of yesterday's New York Times.
On page one, there was a story about the hundreds of paintings that were stolen by Nazis and finally recovered decades later.
That’s how one of the most heroic whistleblowers in Catholic history describes her efforts to expose predators and protect kids.
“I didn’t do enough.”
What haunting words. That must send a chill up the spine of anyone who works – or worked - for any Catholic entity in Minnesota.
When allegedly celibate men use words and phrases about sex that you’ve never heard, that’s when you know something’s being hidden.
For example, do remember when you first heard the word ‘ephebophilia?’ Chances are it was around 2002. And chances are you heard it used by a Catholic official who was desperately trying to avoid having people think that a priest was a pedophile or a child molester.
Both are smart female Catholic lawyers who became part of Archbishop John Nienstedt’s inner circle and enjoyed his ear and his trust.
One of them, Jennifer Haselberger, became part of the solution.
The other, Greta Sawyer, remains part of the problem.
Haselberger’s story is widely known. She’s a courageous whistleblower. Here’s a recent profile of her:
I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard a victim tell me that this is what her local Catholic officials have said about her report of child sexual assault.
(The latest such case involves Fr. Michael Keating of the St. Paul-Minneapolis archdiocese. In 2006, a young victim disclosed to church officials that Fr. Keating molested her. Archdiocesan staff kept quiet, however, and deemed he report “unsubstantiated.” So they kept the predator on the job for nine more years. He’s stepped aside, now that he’s being sued.)
One big meeting of Catholic officials has ended. Another meeting takes place next month. And at both, a huge “the elephant in the room" was ignored.
Last week in Rome, the new “Council of Cardinals” met with Pope Francis for three days. According to papal spokesman Fr. Frederico Lombardi “the sex abuse issue did not come up during the G-8 meeting.”
I’m not talking about the outrageous Fr. Michael Fugee case in Newark. I’m talking about these recent cases, all of which have surfaced in less than one month:
-- Fr. Matthew Riedlinger, who was exposed Sunday as having sent 1,200 inappropriate sexual text messages to what he thought was a teenaged boy and had sexually harassed at least five teenagers and young men, some of whom were seminarians. (For months, Trenton Bishop David O'Connell has kept this hidden.)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.